12.12.12 2:06 PM ET
The Debt the Republicans Support
Matt Miller spins out a lot of good columns at The Washington Post, and today he has another winner. He's hit on the interesting idea about how Obama should frame the coming debt-limit fight under which Obama would...well, let him explain it:
The linchpin of the Republican argument is that the debt limit represents their only leverage to curb your insatiable spending appetites — the only way to deny you a blank check that soaks the nation in debt. “We’re not going to let Obama borrow any more money .... until we fix this country from becoming Greece,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a typical blast Monday on Fox News. “Every big idea he has is a liberal idea that drowns us in debt.”
To listen to the GOP, in other words, you’d think they support budgets that don’t add much to the debt at all. This is demonstrably, laughably, even shockingly false. But only a president can emblazon this fact on America’s consciousness and move it to the center of the conversation. Once you do, it will force Republicans to alter their calculations in the current showdown.
The way to do this is to propose (in a bipartisan spirit, if you’re feeling sly) that the debt limit be raised just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt Republicans voted for in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget last year — $6 trillion over the next decade.
Great stuff. No one knows this. No one knows that the Ryan plan, which nearly all House and Senate Republicans voted to support, wouldn't even balance the budget until the 2040s. Only a president, Miller argues, can make sure that people know it.
If Graham and his sort are asked on the Sunday shows "but senator, why did you support a plan that adds $6 trillion in debt over a decade, and aren't you talking out of both sides of your mouth?", that would change the equation considerably. It's insane that Republicans continue to get away with positioning themselves as the party that cares about the deficit. They're the party that cares about cutting taxes on the wealthy, period and end of story.